Monday, August 27, 2007

DCMM: Home Sweet Home

I am very particular about where I live. My biggest deal-breaker is noise. Moving traffic is fine. Kids playing is fine. Even the occasional dog barking is fine. It's people's personal noise that bothers me. It's the one thing that I am the most uptight about. I have a very physical reaction to certain types of noise. Such as:

When I lived in Oakland, Calif., I lived in a neighborhood that a lot of cars with deep bass thumping on their stereos drove through. And I lived near a stop sign, so the cars would idle there for a few minutes before moving on. Lots of people had loud, late parties in my neighborhood. And there were people diagonally across the street who stood on the corner and played their car stereos for hours on end. And I could hear it all in EVERY room in my house. Clearly I have issues, but that's not what I'm here to talk about. There are other things that make a house unpleasant to live in.

This morning on the local news I heard about a block in DC that has suddenly become an undesirable place to live. You can read about it here. Basically a giant flock of starlings has chosen this particular block to function as their home: their living room, their kitchen, their BATHROOM.

Bird droppings everywhere. They are coating the street, sidewalks, and cars. Apparently it's so bad that the postal service won't even deliver there some days. Yeah, that's right, the "Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet..." people.

Glad I don't live there.

Between Oakland and Maryland, I lived in Alaska. In an above/below duplex. On the top. With a toddler. Over a guy who worked nights and slept days. Thank God he was the coolest guy in Alaska. We didn't see him much (for obvious reasons), but he always claimed that we were really quiet and he couldn't hear us at all. Yeah, right. He couldn't hear our one-year-old running his plastic dumptruck in circles around the living room and over the kitchen linoleum? When his seasonal work ended and he left, our new neighbor told us she could tell we weren't native Alaskans because we wore our shoes in the house.

Okaaaaaay. But we get your point. We'll tiptoe from now on. Barefoot.

Ever since then, I have sworn to never share a wall, floor, or ceiling with anyone again. And I am fortunate to not have to. We live in a nice neighborhood here in Maryland with lots of kids and very little ambient noise. Every time a house goes up for sale, I get nervous that the new owner will be loud. I couldn't care less if they're housing a meth lab in there; I just don't want them to have parties that I can hear in my house. Knock on wood: so far, so good.

The worst thing that has befallen us since we moved here was the 17-year cicada plague of aught-four. Click here. Aaaaaaaahhhhhh! I know. Freaky, huh? 2004 was my first summer here, so when I heard people talking about waiting for the cicadas, I just assumed that they came every year. Not so. I am someone who generally runs screaming from bugs, but it was sort of impossible to sustain that for the whole cicada season. These insects were so numerous and dumb that they would do things like fly into my head. A lot. You get used to it.

I guess there are challenges to living anywhere. I've loved things about every place I've lived, but I tell ya', I'm happy to be living here in my quiet, starling-free, mostly cicada-free, no-shared walls home.

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